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Lori Loughlin to plead guilty in college admissions scandal, faces 2 months in prison

Matthew Ormseth, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Entertainment News

LOS ANGELES -- Lori Loughlin, the television actress who for 14 months maintained her innocence in the college admissions scandal, has agreed to plead guilty to fraud and spend two months in federal prison, according to court documents unsealed Thursday.

Loughlin was arrested in March 2019 and charged with conspiring with William "Rick" Singer, a Newport Beach consultant at the heart of the scandal, to pass off her two daughters, Olivia Jade Giannulli and Isabella Rose Giannulli, as rowing recruits, all but guaranteeing their admission to the University of Southern California.

Loughlin and her husband, Mossimo Giannulli, paid Singer $500,000 in all, prosecutors charged. Giannulli has agreed to plead guilty to fraud as well, court documents show.

For more than a year, the couple had insisted that Singer misled them into believing the money was destined for legitimate university purposes, not bribes to corrupt school employees. Earlier this month, a judge batted down their request to have the charges dismissed for outrageous government misconduct.

Federal prosecutors and the couple's attorneys agreed to ask a judge to sentence Loughlin and Giannulli to two and five months, respectively, in federal prison, the plea agreements say. Loughlin agreed to pay a fine of $150,000 and serve 100 hours of community service; her husband agreed to a $250,000 penalty and 250 hours of community service, the documents show.

If U.S. District Judge Nathaniel M. Gorton accepts these terms, prosecutors will drop the money laundering and bribery charges that a grand jury brought against the couple. They will plead guilty Friday and be sentenced at a later date.

 

There is no guarantee Gorton will accept the proposed punishments. Of the four parents he has sentenced to date, Michelle Janavs, a Newport Coast philanthropist who paid Singer $100,000 to fix her daughters' exams and misrepresent one of the girls to USC as a recruited beach volleyball player, received the lightest sentence: a five-month prison term.

Gorton ordered Douglas Hodge, a former investment manager executive, to serve nine months in prison, the stiffest sentence handed down in the case so far.

"These defendants will serve prison terms reflecting their respective roles in a conspiracy to corrupt the college admissions process and which are consistent with prior sentences in this case," U.S. Attorney Andrew E. Lelling, whose deputies charged the case, said in a statement. "We will continue to pursue accountability for undermining the integrity of college admissions."

Sean Berkowitz, an attorney for the couple, declined to comment.

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